I was asked by Olivia Mitchell to write a blog on what I would like to see in PowerPoint in 2009. Here are my thoughts:
Every PowerPoint presentation is a story. You are either telling your audience about something or you are trying to persuade your audience to do something.
You introduce your story with five slides. These are the most critical slides in your presentation. Each slide should have just one short sentence as heading and a photograph that is relevant to the heading. NO bullet points. The first slide sets the stage. The second slide identifies the characters in your story. The third slide describes the starting point of your story and the fourth shows the ending point. The last of the five slides shows how the characters can go from the starting point to the ending point.
Once you have introduced your story line, you then go on and use as many as you need to elaborate your story. Forget about those rules that say you must present no more than three points in your story. It all depends on your story. If you have 100 points to make, use 100 slides. If you are telling a story about the Ten Commandments, you are going to have more than three points to make in your presentation.
The conventional wisdom says “rehearse, rehearse and rehearse”. I say “Not so fast”. Do not over-rehearse your presentation. Familiarity breeds contempt. Many people over-rehearse their presentations to the point of memorizing the script. The end result is that they will make a stiff and robotic presentation and the audience will see through it. When you make your presentation (tell your story), you need to show passion. You need to show the audience that you actually believe in what you are saying. Focus your time and energy on learning the topic of the presentation instead of the words. If you know the topic well, your presentation will be received by the audience as genuine and sincere and believable. It will come from
your heart and not your brain. If you are not comfortable with the topic or you do not understand the topic, you have no business making the presentation. Any fool – given enough time – can memorize Einstein’s Theory of Relativity word by word and give a presentation. But can that fool answer a question from the audience?
To sum up: No bullet points, one point per slide, use as many slides as you have points to make, know your topic, do not memorize your presentations.